When I finally see those little “pickling” cucumbers arrive at the farmers market, I know it’s time to make my great-grandmother’s bread and butter pickles.
Oma was an amazing cook. She raised (and slaughtered) her own chickens, had a fabulous garden and could preserve or “put up” vegetables and fruits like no one I’ve ever seen. Oh, and the way she rolled out a pastry crust was magical as if she was born to do it.
I am the keeper of Oma’s recipes, all of which are typed or handwritten on index cards and stored in her wooden recipe box. The bread and butter recipe card is a beautiful shade of tan now, with a few drops of pickle sauce on it and is carefully typed out. In the top right corner, it reads “very good” in my grandmother, Annie’s, handwriting. The seal of approval.
These pickles are unlike any other pickle. They are sweet, crisp and a perfect addition to BBQ, sandwiches or any other summer picnic-style meal.
They also require no real waiting time. You can make them, refrigerate thoroughly and eat them the very next day.
Just slice. Make the sweet vinegar concoction. Store in a glass container and, voila, you’ve got bread and butter pickles just like your great-grandmother used to make. Or at least just like my great-grandmother used to make.
Oma's Bread and Butter Pickles
This recipe is super simple and the pickles are ready to eat within a day or two. Be sure to refrigerate thoroughly before opening. This recipe is also easily cut in half, in case you don't want to make excessive amounts of bread and butter pickles, although they do make terrific gifts.
For the pickles:
- 1 gallon sliced pickling cucumbers or
- 2 medium onions thinly sliced
For the pickling concoction:
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups vinegar I use white, but you could use cider vinegar—and often times, I use half and half for a bit more flavor
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
Carefully rinse the cucumbers, slice off the ends and discard. Slice the cucumbers in 1/4-inch thick slices, place in a large bowl. Add the sliced onions.
To make the pickling concoction:
In a 4 to 6 quart pot, place the sugar, vinegar, water and turmeric.
Mix well and add the mustard and celery seeds (again cutting the amounts in half if necessary).
Once the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil, add the sliced cucumbers and onions. Stir. Watch carefully and once it comes to a boil again, let boil for just a minute and turn off the heat.
Immediately begin scooping the pickles and onions with a slotted spoon and pack in jars.
Pour the hot vinegar-sugar syrup over the pickles to about a half-inch from the rim. Wipe the rim clean and put the lids on. Place in fridge (overnight) and enjoy after thoroughly chilled—generally the next day.
I use the classic wide-mouth glass Mason or Ball jars with the lid and screw top. Be sure and clean the jars thoroughly by running them through the dishwasher or placing in a 200 degree oven for 10 minutes or so.